The Tide is in...And Tidal Lossless Streaming is Rockin' This Boat

Woot! Tidal opens today, let's bog its server down!

Just signed up and got my mitts on lossless streaming; checked out a few tracks I'm familiar with; damn...it's just like the CD!

From their press release:

Oslo, Norway – October 28, 2014 – TIDAL, the first high fidelity lossless music streaming service with HD music videos and curated editorial, today announced the launch and availability of its service in the U.S. and UK. The ideal service for those who care about quality, TIDAL welcomes music lovers to enjoy its extensive library of 25 million-plus tracks, 75,000 music videos, and curated editorial articles, features and interviews written by experts. Ad free and available now for a monthly subscription of $19.99/£19.99, visit www.tidalhifi.com or download the app from iTunes App Store or the Google Play Store.

I don't normally post things like this, but in this case I'm making an exception. I've only had about two hours of listening time and playing with the user interface, but so far I'm fairly impressed. Had to use the Chrome browser for the web player to work. Buffering time seemed fairly short when switching tracks. Haven't had any songs drop out yet, but we'll see what happens when the neighborhood comes back home tonight and everyone fires up Netfix.

Anywho, good stuff so far, check it out here.

Edited to add: Looks like the Chrome web player is the best way to get hi-rez for the moment. Apps on computers won't do 16/44. Android and iDevice apps seem to work well. Make sure you've updated Flash recently.

COMMENTS
burnspbesq's picture

So far, so good. I'm pretty certain that I hear non-trivial differences between Tidal's 44.1/16 FLAC stream and Spotify's 320k mp3 (hedging because conditions are less than optimal for rigorous comparison testing). Haven't failed to find anything I was looking for yet (although I haven't gone looking for any old jazz or obscure classical labels yet).

Not putting Tidal on any iOS devices just yet. I don't want to be tempted to use it while out and about and blow through the data allowance on my cellular plan.

That said, I think it's gonna be my number one.

tidalpal's picture

If you're concerned about your data plan for mobile devices: There's an offline mode in TIDAL that lets you take the music with you on the device. It's like syncing without a cable, and not having to deal with the files. Just enjoy the music.

metaldood's picture

Similar to HDTracks, this is nothing but a rip off. Because badly mastered albums will sound bad irrespective of the medium. But choice is always good and many people will sign up for this. At $20 a month this is quite expensive. A blind A/B test between Spotify 320 and Tidal is definitely required to justify the service. Beware of increase in mobile data usage though!

tidalpal's picture

How can giving you access to 2.5-3 million albums in redbook quality, masters coming directly from the mastering houses (we don't rip anything) for $20/mth be a rip-off?

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Edited to add: Looks like the Chrome web player is the best way to get hi-rez for the moment. Apps on computers won't do 16/44. Android and iDevice apps seem to work well. Make sure you've updated Flash recently.
NickS's picture

Are you sure about that? Using the web player on my Mac, Tidal warns to use Chrome over Safari. However, the Mac desktop application version claims to be playing "HIFI".

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Hm. Interesting. It doesn't on my MacbookPro, and I've heard others say the same.
NickS's picture

That is odd. I'm running the MacOS 10.10 and the latest version of Tidal. Maybe that makes a difference.

TheAudioGuild's picture

Now if we could only download lossless files.

Tyll Hertsens's picture
But not on the desktop app. I'm sure they'll get around to it, but hey, if it's there at CD rate at a click of the button, why do you need to store it locally?
TheAudioGuild's picture

I just like having control over the music that I pay for. Power can go out, WiFi or the Internet can go down, I might like to have it to listen to on my iPod Nano. Even if you're using an iPod Touch with WiFi, you still need a WiFi connection. Can you get a good WiFi connection every place you might go as well as points in between?

Tyll Hertsens's picture
..it will download lossless to your mobile device.

And yes, I like having control of my music. Having control over 25 million tracks of music in my subscription sounds pretty darn cheap to me. It's the price of one CD and maybe a cup of coffee per month.

Not sure why you're not even trying to look at both sides of the coin. Does power go out a lot at your house?

TheAudioGuild's picture

I do live in California which gained some infamy not long ago for its "rolling blackouts." And we lost our power here for a bit over 24 hours after a particularly nasty storm came through here a few years ago.

I guess Tidal is fine if what you're after is a streaming service. What I'm really after is a lossless version of iTunes. I can use it for free to explore new music, and only pay when I find something worth paying for, whether it be an album, or for me in most cases, just a track or two. And when I've paid for those tracks, I don't have to keep paying for them in order to listen to them.

So my original comment wasn't so much a slam against Tidal as much as my frustration that no one has yet to offer something like iTunes in lossless.

Impulse's picture

I still prefer to buy my music too rather than rent/stream it, for a huge number of reasons. The constant battery/bandwidth strain from streaming isn't something I'd welcome as someone who's highly mobile.

I wanna be able to put anything on my Clip Zip when I exercise too, or reshuffle the entire library on my tablet via USB/Wi-Fi without having to wait for downloads, or cut a ringtone out of any of my tracks, etc etc.

The small potential benefit in saved money isn't worth all the other tradeoffs to streaming, for me. Not to mention the perennial tie down, some months I'll buy one or two CDs, some months I'll buy nothing, some months I'll buy a few tracks off Amazon...

If money gets tight I don't have to weigh up whether I wanna give up my music, if Apple/Google/whomever decides to buy XYZ service I don't have to prepare to agree to their terms. You would think it'd be EASIER to sell lossless FLACs than streaming, it's just another option alongside MP3.

For the foreseeable future I'll just keep buying CDs for the artists I really like and I'll settle for MP3s when I want a single or just a couple of songs off an album...

Thanks to Amazon AutoRip, these days I don't even have to wait for the CD to arrive or get to my desktop for ripping, if you buy a CD they'll instantly add a digital copy to your account too. I still r rip them to FLAC eventually tho

tidalpal's picture

The lossless option in 44.1/16 is available on all our clients. Our clients not including Windows Phone as there is no native lossless codec there yet and we use the native media renderers in the platforms normally.

This means
- Lossless in Chrome. We will add more browsers but Chome is so far the best at letting us do some memory management in the background to optimize playback. This is also a good option for Linux. (FLAC)
- Lossless in PC/Mac client. This option is still the most robust for sending to an external DAC, unless you have some other re-routing going on in OSX or Windows. (FLAC)
- Lossless in Android (FLAC)
- Lossless in iOS (ALAC).

When you write hi-rez, even though I would like that to be true already, we are streaming lossless redbook 44.1kHz/16bit. In my world, the high-resolution world starts at 88.2kHz/24bit, or perhaps more common 96/24. We have also demonstrated streaming at these rates, but there's still quite a bit on the business side before this is a fully released product, Tyll.

steaxauce's picture

I like the additional focus on classical music, the editorials, and some of the other features they're advertising. With the higher cost and extra content included, maybe artists will be a little bit better compensated than with other subscription services?

The lossless bitrate is not something I appreciate, however, since I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be able to spot the difference. For improved audio quality, it would be a lot better if they included features like an advanced EQ and crossfeed. Music plays a big enough roll in my life that I'd be happy to pay $20/month for a service that added substantial value over the cheaper services out there, but I'm not sure this is it yet.

rasmushorn's picture

Tidal looks great and has better design then the current high resolution service "WIMP" offers in the EU. I guess they just made a new design and a new name because "WIMP" was a bad name for the UK/US market.

It sure does sounds better than Spotify. A great thing with Wimp (and possibly Tidal later) is that it is integrated into the Bluesound streaming players.

tidalpal's picture

TIDAL is the same as the WiMP HiFi product in EU. Not only Bluesound & NAD, but these were communicated as partners at launch with many more to come already: Anthem, Airable by Tune In Media, Astell & Kern, Audeze, Audiovector, AudioQuest, Auralic, Aurender, Bel Canto, Dan D'Agostino, Definitive Technology, Denon HEOS, DTS Play-Fi, Dynaudio, Electrocompaniet, Harman Omni, HiFiAkademie, ickStream, JH Audio, Linn, McIntosh, Meridian, MartinLogan, Paradigm, Polk, Pro-ject, PS Audio, Raumfeld, Simple Audio, Sonos, Steinway Lyngdorf, Wren Sound Systems.

rappahannock1's picture

Hi
I've signed up and downloaded the player.
My problem is that i don't think I really know how to fully access all the music because the number of albums that actually display -- when I opt for "show all" -- is simply too small to add up to 25 million tracks.
What am I missing? I am prepared to be embarrassed by whatever simple fix readers come up with!

Tyll Hertsens's picture
...basically, you have to search for something, it won't/can't show you all the tracks. Once you search for something (say Paul Desmond) you can go to the artist page and then see that person's albums and related artists.

Also, be sure to use Chrome as your browser. With Safari the site layout went a bit wonky and I couldn't see buttons and stuff on the right hand side of the page.

NickS's picture

Also check out their "curated" Playlists. There are some pretty good ones.

rappahannock1's picture

I'll give it a try.
S

Bennyboy's picture

So £20 = $20? How does that work?

Twice the price of my Spotify sub for less choice and no documented testable audible difference?

No thanks.

Grave's picture

Obvious testable difference.

It should be 10 pounds though, way to rip off English people.

MGGWhite's picture

I am not sure why Tyll mentioned that you get 16/44 only using the web player with Chrome. At least in my MacBook Air, I can play with the TIDAL app and it says "HIFI".

I have had some hiccups with TIDAL, as sometimes will stop playing even with a good broadband connection, or suddenly the songs will shift fast without playing, but in general so far it works fine most of the time, most considering it is a new launch.

miceblue's picture

but when I tried the service yesterday, buffering seemed to take an awfully long time. It got to the point where the service was unusable, so I only really used it to listen to 3-4 songs before giving up.

tidalpal's picture

Hi - what platform, client and bandwidth are we talking about. If PC, what Service Pack and is there an external soundcard?

tidalpal's picture

Hi - what platform, client and bandwidth are we talking about. If PC, what Service Pack and is there an external soundcard?

Limp's picture

The curated editorial and playlists are nice, but I still have a hard time seeing what's the big deal about lossless streaming.
I get it when you download music. If you have it in a lossless form you can then convert it to aac, mp3, vorbis etc., and go from one to the other without suffering generational loss. Modifying files, like cutting up, truncating, cleaning up noise etc. is also preferably done on a lossless master, but when you stream you have no use for any of these features.
All you end up doing is paying a premium (both for the service and the data transfer) for what essentially ends up as padding.
A well performed lossy compression will reduce the originals file size to one third or less. Most streaming services are graceful enough to throw away those two thirds you don't need, before sending you the file. Why isn't that the perfect solution?

Redbeemer's picture

I got it under a special deal yesterday. I have had a problem with dropouts and also some noise along with the music. I switched to a different DAC which helps with the static-like noise, but still hear some low level noise. However, the biggest problem is the dropouts. I even changed to a different wi-fi adapter, and, although it is some better, I am still getting the dropouts even with a broadband connection. It seemed worse today compared to yesterday. I have not been able to find a couple of artists and the Search function is pretty fussy about correct spelling of names. I have used other services which auto-completed names or would find artists whose names I misspelled a bit. I briefly compared it to streaming a flac album over the same network/DAC/amp/speakers and the flac sounded better to me than TIDAL. I will continue to test it during the trial period, but so far it is not better overall for me than Google Play All Access. However, I am glad this is available in the U.S. now.

Seth195208's picture

therefore I love streaming. If you don't "get it" typically it means you haven't tried it(For any length of time). I know this for a fact, because I didn't get it until I tried it. I used all the same arguments.

Schiit's picture

Signed up yesterday and tried it at both offices (Schiit and Centric) and at home. No problem at home (60Mbps down/10 up) or at Centric (40/6). Schiit has only crappy (read, typical) lines available (6/1), and it has streaming issues there.

But still...a nice step up from compressed streaming, and the convenience is insane. Yes, we can wish for a future world with streaming high-res, but for now, the sound we can get from 16/44.1 is very, very good.

And, like it or not, this is really the future model—less physical sales and more streaming. With Tidal, I wonder if I'll ever buy albums ever again (well, yeah, we need them for shows and such.)

But...(some more blathering, ignore if you'd like), there are days when I think I need to start an Audiophiles Anonymous, where we can share all our dark secrets, like, well, like...the fact I've never bought a high-res album other than for demonstration or testing (too much bloody money, unknown mastering quality), the fact that I do sometimes listen to compressed streaming (and enjoy it), the fact that not everything can or will be 24/192, and even if it was, the current state of the SSD drive on my laptop would make me be very careful with what went on it, due to storage limitations (there is real work to be done, you know). Embarrassing? Perhaps. But reality.

Tyll Hertsens's picture
...there's very little difference between 320kbsMP3 and 16/44, and less between 16/44 and hi-rez. That's not to say there's no difference, and I do believe I feel more generally at ease listening to Tidal.

As you say, the masters are the big issue. 'Til we get killer masters regularly, 16/44 is plenty.

And I haven't bought any music (personally, I bought a few for my reviewer work) since I started with MOG a couple years ago.

No need for AA, I'll let my 16/44 streaming audio freak flag fly.

SkylarGray's picture

Tyll,

"there's very little difference between 320kbs mp3 and 16/44, and less between 16/44 and hi-rez"

I would put it this way: there is significantly more difference between a 320kbps mp3 and 16bit/44.1kHz audio than the difference between 16bit/44.1kHz and 24bit/192kHz.

To illustrate this technically, here is a difference (null) test and analysis of the resulting spectrum. You can see that there actually is an appreciable difference between a 320kbps mp3 and 16/44 (CD-quality) audio. The difference between 16/44 and 24/192 is mostly relegated to the above-20kHz region and is remarkably lower in amplitude within the audible region. Practically, I hear a bigger difference when going from a 320 mp3 to 16/44 compared to making the step from 16/44 to 24/192.

http://static.wixstatic.com/media/657f98_9fe85401c3fd4b10bdc959b9ebc8bec...

[The difference summation was done in Reaper 4 with a 24-bit/192kHz copy of Miles Davis' "All Blues" from HDTracks (down-res files were derived from this source file, LAME encoder used for mp3). The spectrum analysis was performed using Audacity 2. Different results will arise depending upon the source file, mp3 encoder, and settings, but should be reasonably similar to the above. Try it yourself!]

At AudioQuest, we consider lossless 16-bit/44.1kHz as the "first floor" of hi-res audio. We believe this is definitely worth a premium over lossy-compressed audio. To paraphrase Bill Low...dismissing CDs or 16/44 as "low-res" tells normal people with CDs that they are supposed to start all over again instead of being congratulated for their down payment on the wonderful world of hi-res...it also sends the misleading message that subscribing to 16/44 formats isn't important because it’s "just lo-res."

Back on topic...I'm loving Tidal so far.

tidalpal's picture

What Skylar said.

NinjaQuick's picture

Opus at around 180 is where its at. Some rare compression artifacts, and loads less bandwidth used. It is so much more clever in design than pretty much any other audio codec.

burnspbesq's picture

I bought something from the iTunes store today. There, I said it.

It's a fantastic, and long out-of-print, Wolfgang Muthspiel and Brian Blade album that i found on (yup, you guessed it) Tidal. I'll look for the CD the next time I go to Amoeba in Hollywood, but who knows when that will be.

Had to have a copy for mobile use. I share a 20-gig-a-month data plan with spouse and kid, and I have 128 gigs on both phone and tablet, so for mobile use syncing is better for me than streaming.

aamefford's picture

1) Tyll, there is a picture floating around Head-fi with you letting your freak fly... You are one confident man!
2) I used MOG for a while, but since Beats bought them, it doesn't seem to work so well - or is it just me?
3) I've resorted to Spotify lately. With the "extreme" setting, (supposedly 320 kbs equivalent?) I have no real issues for the times I choose to use it.
4) I'll give Tidal a test drive. IF bandwidth doesn't pose an issue, I can see the benefits. I like the streaming model, now that I've started to emerge from the dark ages.
5) I'm a cheapskate - $10 for Spotify is hard for me to justify. $20 for a marginal improvement will be tough.
6) Does any of this mean I can fly my audiofreak flag too?

drblank's picture

Tidal or others with Amarra sQ? Amarra recently released this that comes with regular Amarra 3.X and it's supposed to work with Streaming services like Spotify and others. It also adds an EQ that's very customizable.

iTroll's picture

YouTube at 128-256k is good 'nough for most of my listenin' these effin' dayz.
I luv rippin' off not just "evil media corps"... but ESPECIALLY starvin' artists ....
...got Torrents?

Erlend's picture

Ive been using WIMP lossless for some time now, and its a game changer. Wimp is the Nordic name for Tidal. Lossless audio is a must have for any serious headfier. I see some of you got the same problems i had in the beginning, some lagging etc. That got fixed after some updates. Its about time wimp got to the rest of the world!

NinjaQuick's picture

Lossless is neat, but not really worth it when it comes to streaming. Opus is a great codec, at 320kbs it is indistinguishable from flac in blind testing, at a far lower network/streaming bandwidth. Streaming service providers need to move away from aac and mp3.. They are outdated designs built around outdated ideas.

Cosmoschrugg's picture

My wife noticed it immediately when AirPlaying from my iPadAir to one of my setups that I periodically use for background music. She NEVER EVER EVER notices such things. It's just not her bag baby...but after I responded to the proverbial "how much does it cost per pound?", with a meek $19.99 a month love, she said that's a keeper, and had me install the app on her iPad. You prolly cant appreciate the magnitude of this, but I can! I use the dedicated client on my 2009 MacBook Pro, feeding a NAD D1050 DAC with AQ Carbon USB cable, and listen through the Headphone out with KEF M500s and it is spine tingling to me, as long as the master is up to it.

I have spent a grand or more on Hi-Rez downloads, have legally downloaded over 2 Tbs of 24/96 Grateful Dead audience recorded concerts, and have ripped over 600 CDs to an external HD. I use Audirvana software with the spartan interface that excludes iTunes and I really love it. What I have gleaned is that 16/44.1 when streamed through a decent to great DAC, really is about all I need to be in Audio Heaven. With most tracks Tidal delivers this magic bountifully to my ears. I also use it in bed with a Nexus 7 feeding B&W P5s and I never want to go to sleep. I'll shut up now. Just try it! For some it might just be the stepping off point. Highly recommended!

mikeaj's picture

In Tidal's test on their website:
http://test.tidalhifi.com/

they seem to use lossy samples that aren't synced properly with the lossless ones and further have a difference in frequency response that can't easily be explained by any normal lossy encoding procedure.

See here for some discussions:
http://www.head-fi.org/t/743658/tidal-lossless-listening-test-whats-goin...

Could you investigate, ask them, and/or update this post? The quality of the service is one thing and still stands, but you don't want to promote lying and false advertising (or at least leave it unaddressed).

andyj34's picture

Does anyone know how to view music genres and artists? I would like to see its catalogue before any commitment is made,

File35765's picture

What genre of music are they offering? I tried to find out but all I got was sign up to see. I'm not giving them my credit card information just to find out it isn't for me. That kind bothers me. If the service is that good why do I have to jump hoops to get a look at it or check it out?

AndrewG's picture

I've been using Tidal on Chrome on my desktop and on both my Android devices through a Fiio E18 DAC/amp. Loving it so far. Doesn't have the selection Spotify has but CD quality audio blows away Spotify anyday. I've done the close comparison with same hardware thing and the differences are clear as day.

The web interface and Android app need some work but are impressive for v1 (and compared with Google Play Music, Qobuz and Spotify, which all have iffy apps). And am I imagining things or is there gapless playback on the Android app??? Holy crap.

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